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With the passing of the Education Amendment Bill today the Government has ignored continuous outcry from Māori leaders and scrapped the partnership school model, National’s spokesperson for Education Nikki Kaye says.

“Yesterday Māori educators Sir Toby Curtis and Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi applied for an urgent Waitangi Tribunal hearing over the closure of partnership schools.

“The Minister of Education Chris Hipkins chose to ignore the claim and today the Education Amendment Bill, which contains provisions that remove the partnership school model from legislation, passed its final reading.

“Partnership schools have a strong track record of lifting Māori educational achievement. The claimants believe axing the model will have a detrimental effect on the futures of young Māori because it limits opportunities for educators to help Māori students succeed.

“The Minister should have done the decent thing and delayed the provisions scrapping the model until the claimants had the opportunity to be heard. Instead he pushed ahead with the legislation without even having a conversation with these highly respected Māori leaders.

“This follows the Minister repeatedly stating that the Crown had not been formally served with the initial Treaty of Waitangi claim, before admitting an error had been made and blaming it on Crown Law.

“The passing of the bill is the final step of an uncaring process that has seen the Minister refuse to meet with many schools and stakeholders, admit he didn’t think there should be Select Committee hearings at partnership schools to provide opportunities for families to submit and fail to deliver all the transition provisions the schools were promised as they become special character schools.

“The legislation passed today also removes National Standards provisions from legislation, finalising the Government’s reckless move to scrap them without a replacement system and leave parents in the dark about their children’s achievement.

“It is a sad day for partnership school students and their families. Their voices have been ignored by the Government, and they have lost the schools that helped many of them experience success in education school for the first time in their lives.

“National remains committed to reinstating and expanding partnership schools within 12 months of returning to Government.”

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